"From Archive to Office: The Role of History in Theories of Architecture Practice" in Albena Yaneva (ed), Ardeth: Ecology of Design Practice no. 2 (March, 2018).
In the forty years since “practice theory” emerged within cultural anthropology, views of architecture have expanded to include a wider entanglement of actors, materials, and societal forces, rather merely individual architects and their resulting buildings. However, recent investigations of architectural practice by both historians and anthropologists reveal an emerging schism in theories and methods of analysis—between historical studies of the past and ethnographic studies of the present. This article traces the formation of “practice theory” as it emerged within cultural anthropology as an explicit theory of history during the 1970s and 1980s, and it examines the ways in which history has since been embraced or resisted within studies of architecture practice, including those informed by science and technology studies, cultural anthropology, and architectural history. Sensitive to epistemological frictions and disciplinary allegiances, this article reveals methodological intersections between these approaches that may serve as a common discursive ground upon which to connect the past to the present, the archive to the office, or the discipline to the profession.